Anthony Kenny

Prodigal Son

Augustine: Conversions and Confessions

By Robin Lane Fox

Allen Lane 657pp £30 order from our bookshop

Augustine, a work of scholarship as readable as any historical novel, is not exactly a biography. It takes the story of Augustine’s life only to his forty-fourth year; Robin Lane Fox has almost nothing to say about the thirty-three years as a bishop that still lay ahead of him. The book is not so much about Augustine himself as about Augustine’s own autobiography, the Confessions. It examines the events recollected in that book and the development of the thoughts that went into its composition.

The Confessions is indeed a remarkable work. In the ancient world it was the first, and only, example of what we nowadays think of as autobiography. Earlier writers, such as Xenophon and Julius Caesar, recorded their exploits but told us nothing about their inner lives. In later centuries, autobiographers took the Confessions as their model and sometimes hijacked its title. 

Royal Shakespeare Company


Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • John Knox said that crowning a woman was akin to putting ‘a saddle upon the back of an unruly cow’. Tell that to Catherine de'Medici...,
    • RT : I 💕💕 the Pulpit article in September's about rereading books at different times of life.,
    • Interesting thread by Aki there on inclusivity in publishing. (Read her tweets for full thread.),
    • RT : A conference about inclusivity in publishing is a fantastic idea, but doesn't £200 seem a short-sighted undermining of, well, inclusivity?,
    • Calling all friends of bulbous salutations & the elfin grot: lots of entries to have already come in, but my door’s still open...,
    • 'Why the hell don’t they have more fun with their money?' Patrick Leigh Fermor skewers the super-rich ,